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Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa [Paperback]

Mungo Park , Kate Ferguson Marsters
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Aug 2000
Mungo Park's "Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa" has long been regarded as a classic of African travel literature. In fulfilling his mission to find the Niger River and in documenting its potential as an inland waterway for trade, Park was significant in opening Africa to European economic interests. His modest, low-key heroism made it possible for the British public to imagine themselves as a welcomed force in Africa. As a tale of adventure and survival, it has inspired the imaginations of readers since its first publication in 1799 and writers from Wordsworth and Melville to Conrad, Hemingway, and T. Coreghessan Boyle have acknowledged the influence of Park's narrative on their work.Unlike the large expeditions that followed him, Park travelled only with native guides or alone. Without much of an idea of where he was going, he relied entirely on local people for food, shelter, and directions throughout his eventful eighteen-month journey. While his warm reaction to the people he met made him famous as a sentimental traveller, his chronicle also provides a rare written record of the lives of ordinary people in West Africa before European intervention.His accounts of war, politics, and the spread of Islam, as well as his constant confrontations with slavery as practised in eighteenth-century West Africa, are as valuable today as they were in 1799. In preparing this new edition, editor Kate Ferguson Marsters presents the complete text and includes reproductions of all the original maps and illustrations. Park's narrative serves as a crucial text in relation to scholarship on the history of slavery, colonial enterprise, and nineteenth-century imperialism. The availability of this full edition will give a new generation of readers access to a travel narrative that has inspired other readers and writers over two centuries and will enliven scholarly discussion in many fields.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press; 2nd ed. edition (25 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822325373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822325376
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 232,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"In a time when the world has grown tame and we have to manufacture our adventures, Mungo Park's Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa is both an education and a delight. The Africa he entered was uncharted and unknown, the farthest outpost of a truly wild and richly mysterious planet. He was the first European to go there and come back again, and he rewarded his society - and ours - with a geographical and anthropological marvel of a book, an adventure story to cap them all." -- T. Coraghessan Boyle

"This edition is well analyzed, with a lengthy introduction and voluminous footnotes that significantly add to an understanding of the original document. Important for any collection on Africa . . ." -- Library Journal

"Western Sudan . . . means for me an episode in Mungo Park's life. It means for me the vision of a young, emaciated, fair-haired man, clad simply in a tattered shirt and worn-out breeches, gasping painfully for breath and lying on the ground in the shade of an enormous African tree (species unknown), while from a neighboring village of grass huts a charitable black-skinned woman is approaching him with a calabash full of pure cold water, a simple draught which, according to himself, seems to have effected a miraculous cure." -- Joseph Conrad, from Geography and Some Explorers

About the Author

Mungo Park (1771-1805) was a Scottish explorer who, at the age of twenty-four, travelled alone to Africa in search of the Niger River. A decade later, he returned to Africa on an ill-fated second mission, this time sponsored by the British government. Though there were no survivors of this journey, Park and the last few members of his expedition were reported to have met their deaths while attempting to follow the Niger to its end. Kate Ferguson Marsters is Assistant Professor of English at Gannon University.Mungo Park (1771-1805) was a Scottish explorer who, at the age of twenty-four, travelled alone to Africa in search of the Niger River. A decade later, he returned to Africa on an ill-fated second mission, this time sponsored by the British government. Though there were no survivors of this journey, Park and the last few members of his expedition were reported to have met their deaths while attempting to follow the Niger to its end. Kate Ferguson Marsters is Assistant Professor of English at Gannon University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Park's instructions were the same as those given to Major Daniel Houghton, whose route Park followed in beginning his search for the Niger from the West Coast and the Gambia River. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars White man in West of Africa 13 April 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book depicts a trip to the West of Africa is a must for anyone who is interested in travel writing and history. It is the narrative of an educated Scottish man called Mungo Park, who is sponsored by the African Association, to adventure into the wilderness of the West of Africa in 1795 with the aim to find out which way the river Niger flowed.
The African Association, consisting of a group of professional men, desired to expand the country's knowledge of the interior of Africa. The Association's thirst for knowledge was related to the commercial links that it hoped to establish with the African countries. The information that the Association instructed Park to record contained imperialistic implications, which later were to form the basis for colonisation.
Park remained faithful to his employers throughout his trip, despite not reaching Timbuktu, but the real hard work as a narrator began when he was surrounded by a group of African ladies, who want to ascertain, 'by actual inspection,' whether the act of circumsision extended to Christian men....
How does he prevent the reader from peering over his shoulder?
This edition contains an excellent introduction by Kate Marsters, and is put together in the format of the original edition, including Park's instructions by the Association, list of subscribers and a picture of Mungo Park himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TRAVELS IN THE INTERIOR DISTRICTS OF AFRICA 13 Sep 2008
By Dr S. S. Nagi TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The book has 388 pages, 8 B/W drawings and no maps. Park was born in 1771 in Selkirk, Scotland. In 1788, he joined Edinburgh Medical School. After qualifying as a surgoen, he sailed to Sumatra. Then he was sent to Gambia and he travelled light. In Benown, Park was forcibly detained for 2 months by Ali. He was sent back to West Africa to discover Niger River and in 1810 died after jumping into a river and drowned.
Park , on 22.5.1795 left Portsmouth for Gambia. In August, he was laid with fever. On 2.12.1795, he travels to the interior. He finds out the fate of Major Houghton. This time he is robed by the moors, because "he was a stranger,unprotected and a christian". Park escapes to Bambarra. He comes to Magestic Niger (the great water) flowing towards the rising Sun, eastwards.
After traveling with no provisions, Park decides to go no further, and starts westwards(homewards). At Wonda, he is laid with fever for 9 days and again 5 weeks. Then on 10 th June, he arrives back in Pasania. He takes off his beard and embarkes on american ship 'Charlestown'. As the ship surgeon dies, Park takes over the doctors role. From Antigua, he sails to England (22.12.1799). He travels to Scotland, writes his book and marries on 2.8.1799.
On 30.1.1805, Park starts his 2nd journey to West Africa, rather then practice at Peebles. Being a rainy season, most of his soldiers die of fever or dysentry. Park is attacked in his canoe, jumps into a river and drowns.
It is an excellent story of courage,suffering and dangerous expedition, very worth reading. Having born in Kenya, I would reccomend it.
Read and ENJOY.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Annotated Version Needed 14 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover
A properly annotated version of Park by someone more well aquainted with the history and geography of West Africa is still badly needed. The present volume is entirely uncritical or reflective on the original text, which is filled with some highly questionable statements. A prime example is Park's claim that of the 'four Segous' two are north of the Niger river and two south, when all are in fact located south of the river - if he invented or was mistaken in this then what other errors or embellishments might there be? A critical point by point following of Park's journey using historic and modern data for the same landscape would be fascinating. Sadly, this book supplies little more than the text of a good original edition coupled with a rather literary introduction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Intrepid Mungo Park 27 July 2003
By events3 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Kate Ferguson Marsters' edition of Mungo Park's TRAVELS is an excellent example of the travel narrative - easily comparable with the Journals of Lewis & Clark or Francis Parkman's OREGON TRAIL. The book is broken into three parts: Park's travel narrative , Marsters' Introduction & Major Rennell's Geographical Illustrations Of Mr. Park's Journey (which is rather dry and dated).
The main work is a narrative of Park's travels from Barra, on the West African coast, to the town of Silla, just west of Jenne and his return to the western coast. Park provides many interesting details and asides, including that of Mumbo Jumbo (also mentioned by Francis Moore) for disciplining wayward wives. Park also spends a fair amount of time explaining local governments and social norms. Throughout, the account attempts some degree of neutrality while noting acts of kindness and avarice by various individuals and rulers; although, not surprisingly, he explicitly criticizes the Moors who continually interfered with his progress and those who robbed and stripped him. Perhaps his most disturbing account is of the female slave who becomes too sick to continue traveling with the coffle. The entire work puts black slaves and their families in a very sympathetic light and shows the slave trade at its worst; although, due to the continuing conditions of slavery and internal conquest pre-dating major European involvement in the trade, Park stated that the termination of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would not provide as great a benefit to the populace in Africa as many hoped.
The Introduction is important in providing the history of Park's early years, the important role of the African Association and its leader, Sir Joseph Banks. More importantly the Introduction deals with the Bryan Edwards controversy. Richard Burton and Orlando Patterson's criticisms have held that internal African slavery and slave trading was not nearly so prevalent as suggested by Park. In light of this, Marsters' statement that Joseph Banks, a critic of slavery, had to approve every piece of Edward's editing becomes extremely important. In addition, it is made clear that the reason for the stylistic differences is that the original TRAVELS was a book derived from Park's notes whereas the published work of his second, ill-fated journey was merely a compilation of those notes retrieved from the dead man's party!
All-in-all, an excellent and informative read!
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mungo Park is one of the overlooked adventurers. 20 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mungo Park (1771-1806?) was the first European to visit the Niger River basin in 1796. He resolved, once and for all, a debate that had European cartographers and geographers confused for centuries.
His initial journey (1795-1797) was a tale of tremendous personal hardship and suffering, but triumph in the end. After returning to Scotland in 1798, he became acquainted with Sir Walter Scott. They became close friends, and it was Sir Walter Scott who convinced him to return to Africa to encover the secret of the mouth of the Niger River.
In 1805 he convinced the British government, in the middlle of a war against Napoleon, to send another expedition to seek out the mouth of the Niger. With 100 officers and men he set out, retracing his earlier steps. The journey was filled with personal tragedy and heroism. After arriving on the Niger, he built a boat, named the Joliba, and travelled down the river. During the course of his journey he met and traded with the many kingdoms that lined the river. However, he also incurred the wrath of many local kings and chiefs who believed that he was cheating them.
Near the town of Bussa (now covered by a huge dam), Mungo Park met his unexpected end. For many years it has been assumed that he was attacked by hostile natives seeking to rob him. In fact it may have been due to the fact that he just failed to navigate the river
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating journey to old Africa 7 Jun 2008
By Amy Nicolai - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading the Kindle version of this book, and found it fascinating reading. Mr. Park is an amazing explorer. The story of his initial adventures is amazing and humbling. He really was a persistent guy!

Worth reading for the insights to slavery as it existed in those days, as well as traveling both as a priveleged white man and later as a fugitive.

The Kindle version works well and was cheap. I doubt I could have found this book readable or affordable in its initial form.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars scholarly edition 26 Dec 2012
By trailrunner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the most scholarly edition available right now. The Wordsworth is solid as an informative read, but for a scholarly assembled, edited, and annotated one, this is the way to go. That is, if you're not looking for an original first edition version for your own textual analysis. This is utterly the wrong choice for that kind of work, as the original has been significantly doctored here. That said, this is a superb edition, and for scholarly purposes, you'd want to go with this one along with an ILL or Gutenburg original scan/digitization.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 9 Aug 2014
By MIG - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
great read my top 10
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